11 January 2011

USS MEMPHIS (SSN 691) – The “Mighty Memphis”


Last week I spent a day at Submarine Base New London visiting with the crew of the USS MEMPHIS (SSN 691) before they commenced a two month deployment earlier this week. MEMPHIS is our Navy’s oldest active submarine (33 years) and thus Father Time has caught up with her and this deployment will be her last. She is scheduled to enter the shipyard for inactivation when she returns this spring.  
Getting the gouge from Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Jeffrey Ratliff
during a tour of MEMPHIS’ torpedo room.
Although this deployment is a brief two months, that did not change the standards to which her crew had to train and certify; the length of their deployment had absolutely no influence on their level of readiness. In other words, they did not relax the standards and approach this as a quick “one and done”. When MEMPHIS sails, she is a ‘force ready for tasking’ – regardless of her length of deployment – and that means she must bring her full range of capabilities and be ready to accomplish whatever mission she may be assigned.
Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kurtis Potts, a Mesquite, Texas native,
showing me the paper charts aboard MEMPHIS. 
MEMPHIS had a challenging few months leading up to this deployment when she underwent a change of leadership and a handful of her crew – Officers and Enlisted. So I was clearly concerned about the possibility the remaining short preparation period leading up to this deployment would have a negative impact on her ability to accomplish her mission. After visiting with her crew, I can say with full confidence that they have done an absolutely superb job staying on track and preparing for this deployment. First of all, I was very impressed by the strong sense of pride throughout the boat. On numerous occasions I was shown where MEMPHIS may have lacked some of the more sophisticated technologies found on our newer subs…such as electronic navigation (MEMPHIS still uses paper charts for navigation!), but that certainly didn’t bother anyone in the crew.  
MEMPHIS CO CAPT Carl Lahti giving me an overview of weapons
 handling procedures
Overall, I was very pleased to see the entire crew motivated and fully engaged. I believe this is a direct reflection of the excellent leadership of the new team (good leadership matters!) and the motivation of the wardroom and crew, particularly the officers and enlisted Sailors who volunteered to transfer to MEMPHIS for this deployment…they stepped up when their Navy needed them most.
All the best, JCHjr

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